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Clarification of COPE advice to editors on Geopolitical intrusions on editorial decisions

There has been much discussion recently on government, specifically US government, sanctions against Iran, the potential effect on Iranian researchers and some publishers have cautioned editors and reviewers about handling papers from Iran. A recent BMJ news item reported on this, which followed an earlier report in Science.

COPE has discussed the  issue of geopolitical intrusion into editorial decision making on two occasions over the past year, most recently at the June council meeting. We agreed  to clarify COPE’s position on this by adding the following clause, that is drawn from text developed by WAME, to our Code of Conduct for journal editors.

"Editorial decisions should not be affected by the origins of the manuscript, including the nationality, ethnicity, political beliefs, race, or religion of the authors. Decisions to edit and publish should not be determined by the policies of governments or other agencies outside of the journal itself."

When the Code is revised we will formally add the new text within the body of the Code; in the meantime this new clause and any subsequent interim amendments will be noted at the bottom of the Code.